How Sport Activities Affect General Decision-Making Abilities in Both Developmental Age and Adulthood

Russo, Gabriele (2021) How Sport Activities Affect General Decision-Making Abilities in Both Developmental Age and Adulthood, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Scienza e cultura del benessere e degli stili di vita, 33 Ciclo.
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The ability to analyse the available information and make the best decision is essential for human survival. Furthermore, these decisions are made under constraint; we can think about medical doctors, military, or sport athletes. This Ph.D project analysed general decision-making skills in uncertain environments with different levels of uncertainties; to understand whether specific sport practices could increase this ability. A statistical game in which participants had to collect as many points as possible to maximise the score was involved. Young and adult open- and closed-skill sport athletes were recruited: in addition, the present study, only in adult athletes, tested the ability to perform under pressure. We hypothesised that both adult and young open-skill athletes should have better decision ability than closed-skill athletes and the control group. Moreover, closed-skills athletes should be better than the control group. Additionally, according to Proficiency Efficiency Theory and Attentional Control Theory, we hypothesised a shift of the visual attention to non-relevant or threatening stimuli and an increased performance if participants increase their cognitive effort. The thesis encompasses three experiments: the first one analysed the effect of individual characteristics (e.g., fluid intelligence; personality traits) to determine the potential confounding factors to control in the other two experiments. The second and third experiments analysed the decision-making abilities of young and adult open and closed-skill athletes, respectively. Results highlighted an effect of intelligence in the decision processes. Furthermore, results indicated that young open-skill athletes were better at understanding the environment than young closed-skill athletes. Differently, adult athletes’ results revealed that sport activities did not influence decision-making abilities. In addition, the project highlighted that when participants faced the low uncertainty environment, they seemed unable to maximise the score. According to Prospect Theory, this behaviour could be given because participants were more oriented to collect points than maximise the gain.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Russo, Gabriele
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
general decision-making; transfer learning; sport science; uncertainty; pressure; attentional control theory; proficiency efficiency theory; open-skill sport;, closed-skill sport; childhood; statistical decision theory; reinforcement learning; anxiety; personality characteristics
Data di discussione
5 Novembre 2021

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